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Village postpones consideration to adopt 159th Street planning study

The Homer Glen Village Board unanimously voted Tuesday, Oct. 6, during a special session to postpone a motion to consider the 159th Street planning study for adoption at its Oct. 28 Village Board meeting.

Trustees agreed that a delay would allow them to have time to more closely examine the final draft planning study presented by the Village’s planning consultant, Houseal Lavigne.

“My issue is that we may have overlooked something that might come back and basically haunt us,” Sharon Sweas, a Village Board Trustee, said. “There has been no legal review.”

Once the 159th Street corridor’s planning study is examined, the document expresses that its use is intended to serve as a working model for decision-making.

The corridor’s proximity to I-355 and IDOT’s road improvement plans, along with Houseal Lavigne’s final draft, could place 159th Street in a new position to become a vital economic development for Homer Glen.

However, Sweas said if Houseal Lavigne’s planning study is adopted as an official policy guide as opposed to a plan, she sees room for concern.

“We haven’t looked into protection,” she said, noting how the plan’s policy seeks to assist the Village in amending its zoning and development codes.

Officials agreed that having four new trustees occupy the Village Board as of May makes the task of coming to a decision regarding the 159th Street corridor planning study all the more challenging.

Beth Rodgers, another trustee, said unlike the corridor’s final draft, Homer Glen’s 2005 comprehensive plan serves as a good representation of the Village’s needs and desires.

“There’s probably some tweaking needed and its based on demographics and the economy,” she said. “But in general, it’s a pretty darn good plan and going through it, I see things that are contradicting that.”

To this concern, Janie Patch, the Village’s economic development director, sought to lessen the confusion.

“There are some inconsistencies between (the planning study) and comprehensive plan but (the planning study) does try to point that out,” she said.

Not everyone in attendance for the Special Board meeting agreed with Patch when it comes to Houseal Lavigne’s planning of the project.

“We don’t always have to clear-cut everything and make it look like everybody else,” Dan Kenney, of Homer Glen, said, noting that he could’ve moved to Orland Park if he wanted what Houseal Lavigne is proposing. “We can create a unique identity and still have a viable economic community.”

When it comes to the 159th Street corridor, Cathy Boo, of Homer Glen, had a different opinion.

“I think it’s called progress,” she said. “For some of us that don’t want to see the progress—like myself who has lived here forever—it’s very hard to watch everything come and go.”

“One of the things I’m proud of is about 5-7 years ago with [former trustee] Margaret (Sabo’s) help, we established a 280-acre forest preserve. Part of it goes to 159th Street. Hopefully, down the line that will be utilized with trail systems but that will always be a part of Homer Glen.”

Rodgers said it might help if the Village tries to gain more input from the residents and business owners regarding their interests and concerns.

While Mayor George Yukich said the community’s input had already been sought, he doesn’t believe their recommendations have been implemented well enough.

“They had a few different times where they brought the board, the residents, the businesses in but (the final draft) still doesn’t show a lot of what was requested in here,” Yukich said.

The last time the interests and concerns of residents and business owners were gauged was November 2014 and since then, the Village has broken ground along 159th Street.

“I think with the new construction going on, it’s waking a lot of people up,” Rodgers said. “…We need to try to engage them again.”

Also at that meeting, discussion was tabled on the preliminary design of Village Hall renovations, as the architect handling the project was not able to attend.

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